Former Weblogs Inc staff, including co-founder Brian Alvey have launched a new blog network Crowd Fusion, built around a new content management system of the same name.
The first blog to launch in the network is Obsessable, a blog covering gadgets, with future blogs to cover personal electronics and eco-awareness among other things. I won't be the only person to groan that yet another blog network has launched with a gadget blog, but ReadWriteWeb quotes Obseesable's Features Editor Barb Dybwad saying the site is coming at a different angle:
"Obsessable covers personal technology and consumer electronics from the point of view of experts writing for people who may not be. This is consumer tech without the snark, where you don't have to be a member of the techier-than-thou club to be a part of the community."
Like Weblogs Inc before it, Crowd Fusion is being built on a custom built content management system (at Weblogs Inc it was BlogSmith). The angle is that the new CMS allows the team to do things they think are important in a better way, without relying on an existing platform such as MovableType (which powers Gawker Media sites among others) and WordPress.
Backed with $3 million from investors including Marc Andreessen and Ross Levinsohn, the list of team members reads like a walk down Weblogs Inc memory lane. Along with Alvey, Barb Dybwad was a former producer at Engadget, CTO Craig Wood was formerley a member of the Blogsmith team, COO Judith Meskill was at one time COO of Weblogs Inc, and CMO Steve Friedman was on the Weblogs Inc sales team...and that's just the ones we know about so far.
The first site is impressive, and this is as smart a team as you could ever put together if you were starting a blog network from scratch. They know the business, and they know it well. However, there's absolutely nothing ground breaking on Obsessable. It's well designed and they're spending good money on writing talent, but this is 2008, not 2004, and unlike the days where Weblogs Inc defined the serious blogging market, blogging is now mature, and the competition heavier than ever. I'm not suggesting the site and network won't go well, and indeed I'd put money on it having some level of success, but I'm not seeing anything new that could be a huge hit in a way Weblogs Inc was...at least not yet. I also don't get the obsession with building a CMS from scratch: it might make life easier but when you're in the content game, your main concern should be the delivery of great content, and you don't need a custom built CMS to do that. We will most definitely be watching Crowd Fusion closely in the coming months and years.